Yvette Tanamal, Jakarta – A Lockheed Martin C-130J-30 Super Hercules that arrived on Monday from the United States is now ready for operating by the Indonesian Air Force, the Defense Ministry said on Wednesday during a ceremony held at Halim Perdanakusuma Air Force Base.
Attended by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto and Indonesian Military (TNI) commander Adm. Yudo Margono, the event involved the symbolic handover of a replica key from the ministry to the TNI chief.
The aircraft is the first of five Super Hercules the Defense Ministry ordered last year from the US aerospace and defense giant, with each of the remaining aircraft to arrive in June, July and October this year and next January.
The new Super Hercules fleet is expected to expand the Indonesian Air Force's operational capacity in terms of speed, range and performance. The aircraft is in operation in 22 countries and is capable of supporting "18 different mission requirements", according to a press release from Lockheed Martin.
"[The aircraft] can carry 98 people with parachutes. Without parachutes, it can carry 128 people as well as transport 19.9 tonnes of goods. It is good for military and nonmilitary operations, including natural disaster relief," President Jokowi said at Wednesday's ceremony.
Prabowo said the new aircraft would undergo maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) in Indonesia, like its existing fleet of C-130H Hercules A-1315. This ensured that the Super Hercules aircraft would continue to involve and support the local defense industry.
Since at least the 1960s, Indonesia has operated C-130 Hercules aircraft in both national and regional missions, including the delivery of humanitarian aid and disaster relief. One recent mission was for Turkey earthquake humanitarian relief, which involved an Indonesian Air Force C-130 aircraft delivering emergency supplies to Ankara.
The Super Hercules is the latest aircraft type in the C-130 family, nicknamed Herky, which in production.
Lockheed Martin vice president Rod McLean stated in the company's press release: "This new era of Super Hercules operations supports Indonesia in achieving mission success with a highly tailored airlift fleet that ensures [Indonesian Air Force] crews can support any task – anywhere, anytime – with more power, strength and capability for decades to come."
At Wednesday's event, Jokowi asserted that Indonesia's national defense capabilities would be developed continuously in stages, according to the state budget.
Prabowo later heaped praise on the President, saying that Jokowi had done more than any other president in improving TNI capabilities and boosting its minimum essential force.
"From what I have seen, the support from Pak [Mr.] Jokowi has been the greatest in the history of our defense sector," Prabowo told reporters on Wednesday.
Since his appointment as defense minister, Prabowo has visited a number of countries, including France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and the US, to negotiate arms procurement. Early last year, Indonesia signed a deal to buy an initial six Rafale fighter jets from France as part of a larger contract for a total 42 aircraft.
Jakarta is also planning to purchase F-15 heavyweight fighters from the US as it seeks to replace its aging fleet, mainly consisting of F-16s from the US and Sukhoi aircraft from Russia.
The House of Representatives approved a record-high defense budget for this year of Rp 134.32 trillion (US$8.75 billion), but only Rp 607 billion of the total budget has been allocated for the defense industry, defense-related research and higher education.